Over its four-decade run, Lorne Michaels has made Saturday Night Live a topical comedy sketch show. In the beginning, the show was applauded for its skits that were often both timely and off-color. The center of the show’s battle ground, its home plate, if you will, is the “Weekend Update” segment.
Over the weekend, it was announced that SNL‘s “Weekend Update” segment was going to go through yet another change-up at the desk, with the departure of SNL writer and anchor Seth Meyers. Following in his footsteps is newcomer Cecily Strong, who Michaels has called the break out cast member of her season.
Since the show debuted nearly forty years ago, Saturday Night Live has seen a bevy of different takes on the news by several cast mates turned anchors.
In years past, most anchors are also regular writers of the show, and their role as anchor is so pivotal that some don’t branch out into other skits. With the exception of a few anchors, their sole purpose is to tell the news and to create a new voice for the topical issues of today. Sometimes that voice is celebrated, and at other times, it’s jeered.
Looking back on Saturday Night Live‘s different reincarnations of what it means to be a news anchor, while riding the line of comedy, we’re giving you the top five anchors for Weekend Update in order.
5. Chevy Chase
Say what you will about Chevy Chase, but, without his addition to the SNL cast, we wouldn’t have wound up with “Weekend Update.” Chase and writer Herb Sargent were the originators of “Weekend Update.” During his introduction to America, Chevy Chase was known for his boyish good looks and his stellar delivery of the news. His own dry delivery was considered a signature style by the end of his run, with his introduction “I’m Chevy Chase.. and you’re not” charming viewers, and inspiring SNL anchors to come.
4. Jane Curtin
Another favorite made waves for being “Weekend Update’s” first female anchor. It was during a time where women in the work force were just starting to be represented in the media, and, for Jane Curtin, she was at the center of being a talking head for that issue. From going “Weekend Update” solo, to enduring the clever commentary of Dan Aykroyd’s “Jane, you ignorant slut” to Curtin’s “Dan, you pompous ass” counter, Jane’s most memorable highlights was seeing how she would interact with running acts like John Belushi and Gilda Radner.
3. Colin Quinn
If Chevy Chase was dry, then Colin Quinn’s delivery was drier than a piece of 2 by 4 wood. In a modern style that can be described as its generation’s malcontent, Quinn encompassed a signature biting and smart ass delivery that the news often lacked, even on its most ridiculous stories. Unlike those before him, he wasn’t the picturesque anchor we were used to. He didn’t look like the boy next door, and he certainly wasn’t an image we saw on the nightly news, but it worked for him. Quinn was everyone’s favorite bartender, and he served up the news in a way you would get your first, second, and third rounds of your favorite drink.
2. Jimmy Fallon & Tina Fey
(2000 – 2004)
This period of “Weekend Update” was definitely memorable due to our introduction to SNL’s head writer Tina Fey. This regime marked Fey stepping in front of the camera. Since Jane Curtin, we hadn’t seen a woman who related with a female demographic. For Fey, she represented everything exciting about women emerging in the industry. You can be smart, savvy, and adorably sexy while telling the news, and, even better yet, she didn’t have to deal with being undercut by her co-anchor. Being her second in command, Jimmy Fallon’s star rose right along Tina Fey’s, and their goofy and lovable chemistry was felt for years. The duo was so on point that their segment was even nominated for an Emmy against real fake-news pundits like Jon Stewart’s series The Daily Show.
1. Tina Fey & Amy Poehler
(2004 – 2006)
Throughout the years, “Weekend Update” has been a good test to see if a cast mate will sink or swim on Saturday Night Live. This testament can be proved with one look at Amy Poehler’s time on the show. Before we saw her as Hillary Clinton, she had the difficult task of replacing SNL’s “best boy” Jimmy Fallon. Up until then, SNL hadn’t seen two women in both anchor seats, but their sassy, savvy, and charming friendship worked for “Weekend Update” and even solidified their comedic timing together when the presidential race heated up in 2008 and again in 2012.